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A Very Popular Win

The event was, as usual, organised by The Spaniel Club. This year, however, saw the introduction of a four-judge system. The new system was seen as a better method of achieving a fair assessment of a dogs performance and by the end of the event was accepted with approval by handlers and spectators alike.
Mr and Mrs Syz with Paul Rawlings and wife Lynne

The four Judges, who officiated at both the Springer and Cocker Spaniel stakes, were: Adian Patterson, John Holloway, Graham Mulligan and Spaniel Club Chairman, Keith Carter. None of this four need an introduction to spaniel folk - all having a great experience with both cockers and springers. Additionally, they have a wealth of experience in the shooting field with years of trialling and training knowledge.

They were well chosen, well respected and were obliviously happy working together.

Secretary and Chief Steward, Jon Smith, ably assisted by club committee members, did a great job of work both before and during the three days, to make the event a memorable occasion for all concerned. Special mention must go to Vice-Chairman, Paul Rawlings, who, in a quiet but authoritive manner, conducted the club and the championships business over the three days.
Neil Black, head Gamekeeper was a gun and Steward of the beat, pictured with
next seasons keeper, Richard Britain, from Castle Bolton North Yorkshire

Neil Black, Dornells Head Gamekeeper, was shooting with a team of guns who mostly only shot flushed birds, However, since quite a number of the dogs struggled to find game in the rank heather and conifer plantation of the first day, a number of birds flushed by the crowd following behind, were shot as they passed over the gun line.

Neil’s planning for months ahead, ensured a very smooth, incredible movement of the beat, the gun line and of people around the central area designated for the trials. Stops quietly appeared and disappeared, as required. Keeper and Club obviously excelled in their pre-trial preparation, and it showed. I was really impressed with the overall organisation and the way the beat was organised to the benefit of all concerned.

There was a great atmosphere of interest and enjoyment throughout the whole of what turned out to be an excellent and fitting premiership and end to the 2003 British field trial season.

The English Springer Spaniel Championship

The Springer Spaniel Championship was held on Thursday the 15th and Friday the 16th of January 2004 by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Syz.

"Dare any man say this was not the best of ground for a tough hunting spaniel? This was the best without any doubt."

Fifty-four dogs had qualified. The trial started with forty-six competing.

FtCh Kettlestang Comet provided eleven runners, four of which were from a mating with FtCh Moonreed Amy (all FtCh’s from the one litter). Other prominent sires were FtCh Clarburgh Art (6), FtCh’s Laganmill Maestro, and Laganmill Malvern.

Five had qualified that were bred by John Edwards, carrying his Edwardiana Kennel prefix.

We got off to an early start in what can only be called idyllic conditions. A cool atmosphere, a tight cover of bramble, bracken and regenerating natural woodland consisting of low growing birch, hazel, alder, etc... with planted short conifers widely spaced between. Later, we progressed through rank, heavy heather interspersed with taller pine trees. There were wet, boggy, valley bottoms edged with tussocks of tall, yellow grass on the dry hillsides. Drumlin country. This was a pattern which provided the ideal ground of which any spaniel handler would give his right arm to have at his disposal.

Pheasants were tucked in tight. They had to be rooted out. A good nose, drive, pace and physical fitness was a basic requirement. Steadiness, style, ground treatment and marking ability were necessary to survive in this punishing first run. It has to be said that many dogs were not of that calibre and fell by the wayside. The award winning dogs showed their calibre early, displaying early mastery of these testing conditions.
John Sowerby (Spaniel Club) with
Judges Keith Carter (Spaniel Club Chairman) and Graham Mulligan

Dare any man say this was not the best of ground for a tough hunting spaniel? This was the best without any doubt.

There was work of a high standard in difficult conditions. Probably more in the hunting than in the retrieving, which, in some cases, could have been a lot better. None the less, overall the standard was high, befitting a championship.

The judges, with so many dogs to see over two days, were united in their desire to find the top dogs - those with courage and quality - for the second run. They took no prisoners. The judges were fair in their treatment of all and no one could say that the results did not find the best dogs of the championships.

There were three Irish dogs running since Poreg McMahon’s FtCh Millshadow Aster was a non-runner due to an injury, while RobinYoung’s FtCh Ewardiana Tawny was, unfortunately, in heat. That left Norman Blakeney’s Skronedale Felicity, Ivan Wilson’s Keeperscourt Dancing Brave (Diploma) and John McAdam’s FtCh Flowbog Wisp handled by Damian Kelly. Wisp also earned her Diploma with her first class, first run in a bog of sparse cover. She handled the ground well finding birds which materialised out of nothing and made four longish retrieves look easy. Almost certainly an “A” run.
Ian Openshaw

Ian Openshaw's first run with last year's winner, Freddie Smith’s FtCh Whitehope Solitaire, was outstanding - but struggled to find game at the end of the woodland, close to where we had started.

Dave Lisset had three bitches qualified after a fantastic season during which he won the Irish Spaniel Championship with FtCh Edwardiana Tweed and was third with FtCh Annickview Anna. Unfortunately, Tweed failed a retrieve in testing circumstances. His third entry, FtCh Toonarmy Top-Tip, had two classy runs. While Anna, in her first run, was hunting in an area where viewing was difficult due to trees, flushed a woodcock over a deep ditch which landed some way out in tall, heavy heather, made a good unmarked retrieve.

John Bailey, running Chris Wadsworth’s Arnothill Spice and his own FtCh Nant-y-Bwla Ricky, showed a touch of his professional handling skills to gain two Diplomas. Jeff McAndrew’s Tyn-y-Waun Tamper looked good, as did Towerbird Waterfern of Castlepride handled by Dave Myers. Towerbird looked very stylish on a hillside in its first run.

The Second Day

The ground changed dramatically; an open field, whinny banks and a ditch or two, a wet glen, an expanse of open yellow grass and finally a pine wood provided the crowd with an excellent view for the whole day.

There were birds a plenty and one or two rabbits.

Running on the right hand side was David Lisset with Annickview Anna, providing an exhibition of dogwork not seen at a championship for many years. This young mans quiet style of handling, his meticulous training, his oneness with his dogs... shone like a beacon. Hunting with style and vigour, Anna made everything look easy. She was prepared for this - and when the opportunity arose, she had the training and the experience to deal with it. Long retrieves across a sunken, muddy, rush-fringed pond were accomplished with ease. When necessary, she handled perfectly. I t was a stunning performance. One of which the crowd enjoyed watching and really appreciated.

A Very Popular Winner and a Worthy Champion

Early afternoon brought the proceedings to a Run -Off. It was held on the hilltop in yellow grass with a stunning view over Loch Ken to Cross Michael in the distance.

Three dogs were called: Solitaire, Ricky, and Tamper. Solitaire did what she was trained to do. She did her part well, competent, pacey, with good ground treatment, style and no problems. Tamper lost pace, dwelling on scent. Ricky failed to stop to shot.

Was this run off for First? Speculation was rife. What had happened to Anna? What had happened to Top-Tip?

Neil Black was pleased to see his birds, which were wild reared on this hill, being undisturbed by the close proximity of the crowd .As the Judges were making up their books, they were tucked in, ready to be flushed for this important part of the championship. The Grande Finale, all as planned, and for it draw to a close so successfully.
Dave Lisset with the John Lukies
Memorial Guns Award

The Run-Off turned out to be for Fourth and two Diplomas of Merit.

The winner, after having had two cracking runs, was no surprise. At the awards ceremony, Dave Lisset’s win with FtCh Annickview Anna was greeted with delight by the audience. The applause went on and on - unheard of in many years attendance at the spaniel championships.

A very popular winner and a worthy Champion, Dave also was awarded Second place with FtCh Toonarmy Tip Top. He also collected the Ogle Memorial Cup as the breeder of the winner and The John Lukies Memorial Trophy as the Guns Award, among other prizes.

First, Second and Third were so well thought of by the judges that they were “on ice”. Dave Myers’ Towerbird Waterfern of Castlepride took Third place with the top dog from the Run-Off, Freddie Smith’s FtCh Whitehope Solitaire, handled by Ian Openshaw, who was fourth.          

English Springer Spaniel Championship Results
  • 1st.....FtCh Annickview Anna - D Lisett
  • 2nd.....FtCh Toonarmy Top Tip - D Lisett
  • 3rd.....Towerbird Waterfern of Castlepride - D R Myers
  • 4th.....FtCh Whitehope Solitaire - F Smith (I Openshaw)
Diplomas of Merit
  • FtCh Craighaar Classic - G Baldwin - (I Openshaw)
  • Toonarmy Top Man - S J Charlton
  • Glynvilla Gaffer - S J Rayner
  • FtCh Flowbog Wisp - J McAdam - (D Kelly)
  • Arnothill Spice - C Wadsworth - (J Bailey)
  • Tyn y Waun Tamper - J McAndrew
  • FtCh Nant y Bwla Ricky - J Bailey
  • FtCh Rytex Rolex - J Pay
  • FtCh Rytex Rish - J Clark
  • Keeperscourt Dancing Brave - I Wilson
  • Cefn Glas Candy Lass - A Lewis
  • FtCh Rytex Rasey of Roydedge - C Watson - (I Openshaw)

Cocker Spaniel Championship

Held on the 17th January, on the same ground - with the same host, same guns, same judges, etc... the Championships continued as the weather continued to be bright sunshine with clouds. It was sheltered - almost warm in the little folds of the hillside. There was plenty of game and good scenting conditions - generally, most unseasonal for the time of year. This ground was totally different. We started just behind Dornells House, off the lawn and unto the mountainside. The first bird shot was a woodcock! I saw fifteen in the first twenty minutes.
Judging the Cocker Championships is Graham Mulligan and Aidan Patterson

This was superb ground for the cockers and they did it justice.

It was sometimes difficult to see the little dogs in the heather and bracken. Some handlers allowed their dogs to over hunt areas, staying in clumps of bramble too long... not moving on. There was some lovely hunting and outstanding retrieving. Cockers seem to have more than their share of game and gun sense. Long retrieves, marked or unmarked, were successfully accomplished. Lines were taken at speed for long distances with apparently little effort. Finds had to be positive and dead steady; not a movement. As in the Springer Spaniel Championship, spectators sometimes walked birds up behind the line, which the judges rightly ignored. But how those birds lay invisible and undetected is a mystery. Short or long retrieves were marked to an exact spot.

Dogs really needed to be level-headed and the handlers right on their toes in order to avoid elimination - indeed to feature in the awards. It was also a good championship a fitting end to the field trial season

The winner, after a decisive Run-Off, was Mr D J A Openshaw’s FtCh Chyknell Gold Star, bred by Mr Joe Shotton and Handled by Ian Openshaw

Cocker Spaniel Championship Results
  • 1st.....FtCh Chyknell Gold Star - D J Openshaw - (I Openshaw)
  • 2nd.....Maesydderwen Sorcerer - A Read - (P E Jones)
  • 3rd.....Dearn Valley Jade of Cheweky - M Whitehouse
  • 4th.....FtCh Danderw Druid - D J Openshaw - (I Openshaw)
Diplomas of Merit
  • FtCh Kingcott Bella - R Claydon
  • FtCh Mallowdale Olga - D J Openshaw - (W Openshaw)
  • Deepfleet Flo - P Avery
  • FtCh Hwlffordd Gwawrwen - S Seaward
  • FtCh Roanlodge Treacle - C Wadsworth
  • FtCh Whaupley Reiver - A Robinson
  • FtCh Cadboll Zachary - E Constantine - (S Tyers)
  • FtCh Sandford Black Mamba - S Tyers
  • FtCh Chyknell Judy - J Shotton - (I Openshaw)

Victor McDevitt has enjoyed an active involvement in the British gundog sceene for over thirty years. Among his judging credits are: the CLA and British Spaniel Championship - twice each, the Irish Championship, the Sweedish Spaniel Championship and the French International. Positions in organizations that Victor has held - or currently holds include: Chairman of the English Springer Spaniel Club of Northern Ireland and for the Fermanagh Gundog Club - for which he also served as President. He has been the Hon. Treasurer for the Antrim and Down Springer Spaniel Club, Chairman of the Kennel Club Field Trial Liaison Council, Spaniel Secretary and Chairman of the Ulster Gundog League, Patron of the Northern Ireland Gundog Field and Show Society, the Northern Ireland Game Fair Gundog Director and is currently the Vice-President. Victor serves as a committee member for the Kennel Club along with his service and participation in other field trial clubs. His kennel affix is "Glendevitt".

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